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    Ascaroside pheromones stimulate dispersal, a key nematode behavior to find a new food source. Ascarosides produced by entomopathogenic nematodes (EPNs) drive infective juvenile (IJ) emergence from consumed cadavers and dispersal in soil. Without ascarosides from host cadavers, Steinernema feltiae (EPN) reduce dispersal substantially. To determine whether other Steinernema spp. exhibit the same behavior, we compared S. feltiae and S. carpocapsae IJs without host cadaver pheromones. Unlike S. feltiae, S. carpocapsae IJs continued to disperse. However, S. carpocapsae IJs exhibited a temperature-dependent quiescent period. The IJ quiescent period increased at ≤20 °C but did not appear at ≥25 °C. Consistent with this, S. carpocapsae IJ quiescence increased from 30 min to 24 h at ≤20 °C over 60 days. The quiescent period was overcome by dispersal pheromone extracts of their own, other Steinernema spp. and Heterorhabditis spp. Furthermore, S. carpocapsae IJ ambush foraging associated behaviors (tail standing, waving, and jumping) were unaffected by the absence or presence of host cadaver pheromones. For S. feltiae, IJ dispersal declined at all temperatures tested. Understanding the interaction between foraging strategies and pheromone signals will help uncover molecular mechanisms of host seeking, pathogenicity and practical applications to improve the EPN's efficacy as biocontrol agents.


    Fatma Kaplan, Abigail Perret-Gentil, Julie Giurintano, Glen Stevens, Hilal Erdogan, Karl C Schiller, Amaleah Mirti, Edith Sampson, Cedric Torres, Jiayi Sun, Edwin E Lewis, David Shapiro-Ilan. Conspecific and heterospecific pheromones stimulate dispersal of entomopathogenic nematodes during quiescence. Scientific reports. 2020 Mar 31;10(1):5738

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    PMID: 32235877

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